By 2022, the Obama administration hopes to finish off an electrical grid that will connect all of the Americas, from northern Canada down through the Caribbean and ending at the southern tip of South America.
The idea behind “Connecting the Americas 2022” is to make electricity universally available – and is part of the US State Department’s broader effort, the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, launched in 2010. That effort, which addresses cooperation on energy and climate in region, is meant to ensure economic growth and prosperity by developing clean energy resources, increasing energy security and reducing energy poverty. It has “sparked a wave of innovative partnerships across the hemisphere,” noted Sec’t of State Clinton in a speech.
Peace Corp volunteers, for example, have been training people to install and operate energy-efficient technologies, including alternative fuels, biodigesters, solar water heaters and solar PV, solar and fuel-efficient stoves, and wind or mini hydroelectric power generation.
“With this single project, we will promote energy efficiency and renewable energy, fight poverty, create opportunity for energy businesses, including U.S. businesses, and forge stronger ties of partnership with our neighbors. It really is a win-win-win, in our opinion,” said Clinton.
“It seems simple, but if one country has excess power, it can sell it to a neighbor,” she said. “The climate variability across our region means that if one country has a strong rainy season, it can export hydropower to a neighbor in the middle of a drought. Plus, by expanding the size of power markets, we can create economies of scale, attract more private investment, lower capital costs, and ultimately lower the costs for the consumer.”
The project would also bring reliable, affordable electricity to 31 million people who don’t have that. Rather than relying on dirty, expensive diesel generators or firewood or charcoal, we can end energy poverty and bring clean energy to them at the same time, reducing the use of climate forcers, Clinton says.
The Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and all the countries in the Organization of American States have signed on.
A year ago, the State Department created a new bureau, the Bureau of Energy Resources, which governs efforts related to energy.
Learn more about Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas.
Learn more about Connecting the Americas 2022: